Book Review, Middle Grade Fiction

The Raven Riddle by Vashti Hardy & illustrated by Natalie Smillie

The third book in the wonderful Griffin Gate series by the brilliant Vashti Hardy & Natalie Smillie has arrived! Just as accessible, exciting and adventurous as the first two books, it is a fantastic read for anyone who loves the idea of using incredible inventions to solve mysteries.

In The Raven Riddle, Grace Griffin is so glad to have a friend her own age. Tom Eely has come to live with them and become a map warden too. His talent for designing new gadgets is invaluable as they travel around Moreland to help people in need.

Grace and Tom are ready to take on a crime-fighting mission on their own! They have all the equipment they need (including jelly babies) and just know they have what it takes. Mum sends them to a mountain village where locals are worried that a witch has moved into the forest and her wild ravens are attacking them unprovoked.

Are the villagers right to be afraid or is there more to this strange woman, her creaky house and her protective birds? Grace and Tom take the time to get to know her and quickly realise you can’t judge a book by its cover or a witch by her ravens. As disaster strikes, the brave pair must convince the villagers to let go of their prejudice and work together to save the community!

Natalie Smillie’s illustrations are such a key part of this series. Bringing even more personality to the likeable characters, they enhance so many details. I love the witch’s amazing house, the clockwork bird and the expressions on the villagers’ (and the cow’s) faces.

Published by Barrington Stoke, this exciting story has a reading age of eight but an interest level up to age twelve and beyond. Like in The Griffin Gate & The Puffin Portal, Vashti Hardy has used her gift for adventurous storytelling to create an accessible world. Already familiar with Moreland and Grace’s family, this book will be a safe, comfortable read helping developing readers find their reading spark, while building their confidence with manageable chapters and text. It will be published with dyslexia friendly font and colours to ensure everyone can access the treasure within.

I am thrilled to be using an extract from The Griffin Gate in my upcoming Contemporary Children’s Literature comprehension book for Years 3-4.

Thank you to Barrington Stoke for my copy of The Raven Riddle!

You can read my reviews of The Griffin Gate & The Puffin Portal here:


Click on the covers below to find out more or purchase on-line from Amazon or bookshop.org.

Books by Kate Heap:

Contemporary Children’s Literature: Years 3/4

Nonfiction: Years 5/6

Nonfiction: Years 3/4



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